It was raining in Hell’s Kitchen New York as Charles Arthur walked SE on West 50th Street near the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health.
He reminisces about how his gang had scored so much methadone and prescription drugs from that joint over the years.
The previous night near the docks on that very street his gang’s safehouse had been raided by the police. Everyone had been killed. He was the only one who had survived. Cops had kicked in the door and started shooting, no warning, no chance for surrender.
His eyes come back into focus, finally taking note of the rain and a newsstand to his right.
The front page story features Cyrus Jr., Michael Bloomberg, and assistant DA Gregory Quincy all smiling and shaking hands, each man celebrating his own ego and how crime and drugs are on the decline.
Charles cell rings and it’s a dead dial tone.
Then a payphone to the right the newsstand rings. Charles answers it and it’s the only person left on the planet who knows him.
Marcus Boudraux reconnects with Charles and invites him to a meeting near the French Quarter in four days – having no other options Charles agrees.
He catches the next available Grey Hound to Penn Station and buys a ticket to Louisiana.
Jimmy is hitching a ride with a white lightning bootlegger towards the French Quarter.
A traveling drifter musician, Jim is doing the Chuck Berry thing and forming bands on the spot. Just trying to make ends meat.
He and his transport come off interstate 10 and head SE on Canal St. Then NE on Charles St. towards Jackson Square.
He disembarks and thanks his associate, taking in the scenic flair and local talent of the park.
Jimmy makes his way to a small gazebo housing a jazz saxophonist and joins the Sax player’s small crowd.
By chance Marcus Boudraux walks by and notices Jimmy’s purple hair and Gretch guitar. He introduces himself as a record producer for Arete Productions an indie offshoot of Columbia Records and invites him to a show at his modest indie club in three days.
Jim takes Marcus’ card and thanks him kindly; then he sets up shop next to the saxophonist and begins earning his keep.
He plays for 40 minutes, drawing a modest crowd, and earns some bread.
He also draws the attention of a Marriott Conference Serviceman who invites him to play with a Benny Goodman cover act at the Marriott on Canal St. The Serviceman offers Jimmy room and board plus drinks for a two night gig.
Jim agrees and sets his schedule.
The night of the meeting, Marcus arrives early at Arete Indie and begins producing the joint for opening.
When he’s done he enters the back room where a card table, mini bar, and a couple of monitors are setup. Gaberiel Roget and Chess Milgram are waiting for the dealer to show up and the show to start.
Jimmy arrives and enters the club talking to Lisa (the house’s coordinator) and the female engineer for the night.
He gets situated behind the stage and prepares for his set, rubbing a few of the second act players the wrong way.
Charles arrives and flashes Marcus’ card to the doorman who lets him into the club. One guy outside can’t believe it.
He enters the back room where Gabe, Chess, and Marcus are drinking lightly, listening to the club’s music and just talking.
Charles and Marcus greet each other and Charles suggests that until the dealer shows up, he’ll deal the cards. Gabe is intrigued and demands a Black Jack deal.
Charles deals the cards perfectly and the night rolls along smoothly – until Jim starts his set.
Jim’s playing lights the club on fire – the entire back room is impressed, Lisa’s impressed, the engineer’s impressed, and the guitarist for the second act is blow away. Through the haze of his blunt smoke he walks back behind the stage and starts yelling at the engineer, because damn it why didn’t his guitar sound that good.
Chess comes out after Jim wraps up and brings him into the back asking Marcus where he’s been keeping this kid.
The DJ sets up after Jim and the club falls into a nice pace.
Charles excuses himself from the table once the actual dealer shows up – quite late and very embarrassed.
Charles goes out to the main bar and swipes the second act’s drummer’s wallet.
The night’s winding down (thought the club’s still hoping) when Charles returns into the backroom.
Everyone’s still playing Black Jack, though Chess is doing his best to sweet talk Jim – Gabe looks like he’s winning.
Chess excuses himself for the night.
Then Lisa comes into the back and tells Marcus there’s a problem outside.
Marcus looks to the dealer who hightails in out of the club, Gabe says he’s unarmed and leaves as well.
Marcus, Charles, and Jim run into the back alley and see the drunk second act drummer in a fight with a wild kid.
Charles yells at them to stop, but as soon as the drummer turns his head the kid throws a dynamite punch to his jaw and knocks him cold.
The drummer goes down and the three mages fight the kid.
They kill him when he goes crazy.
Marcus’ staff comes out of the club and handles the cleanup.
Charles hauls up the drummer and gets him into a cab.
The three new acquaintances each depart for a safehouse provided by Arte Productions.